Tag Archives: Nashville record stores

Nashville Record Stores: The Groove

For our newest readers–Vinyl Road Rage is our annual cross-country road trip to find great indie record shops, strange & rare vinyl, and all the odd experiences you have on a prolonged drive. In December 2011 Vinyl Road Rage went from Chicago to San Antonio Texas, and these posts are the record store reviews of all the places found along the way.

Nashville, Tennessee record stores are not scarce by any means, and the city should be considered a vinyl collector destination city. One of the highlights of our Nashville visit was the smaller, scrappy independent record store, The Groove.

Situated in a converted house in/near what an outsider might rightly call the bohemian district of Nashville, The Groove was fun to shop, friendly, and apparently getting ready to expand with a new stage planned. There’s nothing like a good in-store, and it’s easy to see how this record store would be even more fun to shop by bringing the bands in.

There’s a sizable jazz collection and plenty of oddities and obscurities. One of the best finds of the trip came courtesy of The Groove; the Black Mass album by Lucifer. It was a real thrill to score that one, so The Groove definitely took a big step higher in the Turntabling book for supplying such an exciting find.

During the visit to The Groove, something became apparent–a seemingly unifying thread between several really amazing record stores found in various places all over America.

At present it seems that some of the best record shops, the most friendly and fun stores are those found in converted houses. You couldn’t say that the ONLY great record stores are in former homes, but most of the shops IN houses seem to have more care lavished on them, more attention given to the atmosphere and the organization; this would be apparent again and again during the trip.

The Groove is obviously one of these and the homey environment you find yourself crate digging in is great. And of course, the unusual vinyl finds (lumped in with all the other great records by groups you already know and love) are a huge part of that.


The Groove is definitely on the Turntabling must-revisit list for next time, it’s fairly easy to find and chances are good it will be your first stop on the way into town if you’re also looking for Third Man Records or the Lawrence Record Shop on Broadway. Out-of-towners, be sure to check their website for info as The Groove frequently does listening parties, giveaways and other in-store events. You might just find something awesome happening around the same time as your visit.

–Joe Wallace

Join me on Facebook and don’t forget to check out the WTF Records Facebook page which features regularly updated bad album covers and more.

Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Nashville Texas

Some landmarks are as much about preserving the mystique and furthering the legend of a place or person as they are about anything else. Nashville’s Ernest Tubb Record Shop is definitely tops in both of those departments.

You might not know a damn thing about Ernest Tubb, but by the time you leave the record store you’ll have gotten a quick education about the man and his work in the era when the music industry supported “both kinds”, country AND western.

For those new to Nashville, it becomes clear that Broadway is the street where a good chunk of country tourist attractions are located, including the Ernest Tubb store. It’s kind of hard to miss once you get near 417 Broadway:

Once you get inside, you enter a world of 100% pure country music, nostalgia for “the good old days” of AM radio, those huge microphones, and ten gallon hats. It may be Ernest Tubb’s record shop, but it’s hard not to think of the other crooners when you see the decor. Gene Autry springs instantly to mind; the ghosts of Dale Evans and Roy Rogers are hard to shake in here.

Almost as if store organizers know this is happening, there are constant reminders all over the store about Tubb and his work.

You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking of this place as a sort-of museum for music as enjoyed in the pre-internet, AM radio era. It’s fascinating to think about what these recording artists would make of today’s totally decentralized music landscape as compared to the “only game in town” type environment they worked in so long ago.

One interesting sign of the times–the Ernest Tubb Record Shop doesn’t have a staggering collection of records.

Compact discs far outnumber the vinyl, or at least that’s the impression you get looking around the shop. There’s only one section of vinyl records to browse through, and the official site pushes the CD format very hard. No vinyl at all mentioned on the front page. For vinyl junkies this is practically sacrilege, but perhaps it’s more about what the tourists want.

And what they likely want is some souvenir of Ernest Tubb without having to lug around 12 inches of vinyl all day.

So the Ernest Tubb Record Shop might have a bit of a misleading name for vinyl purists and collectors, but really the store isn’t set up for the vinyl junkie. It’s all about the Cult of Tubb.

If you’re into the mystique, the myth making and the ghost of a music genre that doesn’t really exist like that any more, this shop is definitely a must-see. You won’t need a TARDIS to go back in time here.

–Joe Wallace

PS: I regularly update the WTF Records Facebook page with bad records and news of progress on the WTF book. Why not join me there? You can also get snark and vinyl obsessiveness by friending me on my personal FB page. which doubles as the Turntabling FB presence.

Jack White’s Record Store: Third Man Records, Nashville Tennessee

When Vinyl Road Rage 4 pulled into Nashville, it wasn’t just to gawk at a music scene overwhelmed by southern hospitality. It was also to get a nice, close look at Third Man Records, the ultra-boutiquey record store owned by Jack White and basically the storefront for his label of the same name.

An out-of-towner will have a bit of difficulty locating Third Man Records, and the shop is in a vaguely (to an outsider, anyway) sketchy part of town–as are most wonderful subculture destinations. But the trip is definitely worth sorting out the directions for, even if you’re not a massive White Stripes fan.

From the moment you roll up on Third Man Records at 623 7th Avenue South, Nashville, it’s obvious that this record shop is different. It’s a very small, cozy space indeed, and as you can tell just from the outside, oozing with style.

In fact, it’s got as much style as a Mario Bava film, with the same attention to detail in every corner from the listening station record player to the short little hallway off to the side of the counter, lit only in red, leading to a private doorway where one assumes Jack White’s musical Wonkaland begins.

Third Man Records only sells music and merch by its artists, so this is the very definition of a boutique record shop. Limited edition 45s, hard-to-find vinyl by the 5,6,7,8s and all the Third Man roster you could want are here (and online at the official Third Man Records site).

The shop is friendly, but feels slightly crowded with more than three people in it…but even if you have to wait a bit to get your hands on some ultra-limited or just plain lustworthy Third Man vinyl, it’s well worth it. I spent quite a lot of time (comparatively) in Third Man just soaking up the atmosphere…if more record stores fussed over their approach like this, vinyl collecting would probably double just out of sheer enjoyment alone.

It’s obvious that Third Man and Jack White love vinyl. The respect they have for the medium is all over the shop. For me personally, the prize find was the 5,6,7,8s album, but major fans of The White Stripes like my friend Lisa Sumner over at the Rare Vinyl and Just Cool Records blog should consider a pilgrimage here–there’s much to take home! Sure, you could likely get all the same titles online, but seeing Third Man in person is definitely one to add to your to-do list.

–Joe Wallace

P.S. I regularly update the collection of bad, misguided and insane album covers on Facebook. “Like” the WTF Records page and see the latest awfulness.

Nashville Record Stores: Lawrence Record Shop

Nashville has no shortage of record stores, for obvious reasons, and when you hit turn down Broadway you will find more vinyl than you can shake a record needle at.

Lawrence Record Shop at 409 Broadway in Nashville is so large that you might actually stop and stare with your mouth open for a moment–it’s 180 feet of wall-to-wall LPs and 45s. It’s an impressive collection of vinyl, and it seems to stretch on to infinity when you’re standing in the front of the store for the first time.

As you might guess, this store is overwhelmingly country-oriented. Just look at this row of vinyl records stretching all the way to the back of the shop, and yes–they’re ALL country:

Turntabling isn’t realllly interested in country music. In fact you might say that thanks to a childhood filled with mandatory AM radio listening crammed wall-to-wall with Ray Stevens, Ronnie Milsap, and the cringe-making ever-present Oak Ridge Boys, there’s a definite ALLERGY to country round the old Turntabling office.

But since WTF album covers are a passion round here, country records must not be overlooked–and with so many twangy LPs on hand it’s damn near impossible NOT to find a good variety of laugh-inducing album art.

Lawrence Record Shop is not only a great place for country vinyl collectors to fill the gaps in their collections, it’s also a Mecca of mind-numbing WTF album covers.

In the midst of all this, there was a decently sized soundtrack section which featured some eyebrow-raising titles including The Dark Crystal, the soundtrack for the Irwin Allen laugh-fest The Swarm, and even a copy of Buck Rogers In The 25th Century.

This store is definitely worth a look in, even if you’re just a curiosity seeker who hates the sound of a twangy guitar. It’s right next door to the legendary Ernest Tubb Record Shop, so chances are you were headed to that part of town anyway if you’re not from Nashville.

While it’s true that some would say that the t-shirt message, “Nash Vegas” is precisely what’s WRONG with Nashville, you can’t deny that the southern-friend veneer of Broadway in general is pretty fun–at least as a mere country music tourist, more than amused at the down-home quality of the genre. Sorry folks, give me technology, city noise and scary movies with subtitles.

I shudder to think what the locals make of the Nash Vegas notion, but who knows? Maybe everyone in town is all about the cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat. I somehow doubt it, if Jack White’s Nashville-based Third Man Records is any indication. White might have allied himself with one of country music’s darlings, but I view their work together more like southern gothic, for some reason.

There’s definitely much more to Nashville than Ernest Tubb…but as my first stop on the Nashville leg of Vinyl Road Rage it was pretty fun to enter the honky tonk heart of darkness–briefly.

–Joe Wallace

Join me on Facebook